When Is Honesty Not The Best Policy?

ashwathama

“The Indian epic Mahabharata, teaches us that there is more to life than meets the eye. Yes, rules were broken in the Mahabharata war. An elephant, not a man, called Ashwatthama was killed. But why should we uphold rules when they prop up a society where actions are based on power not love, where the motivation is anger not affection?” concludes Devdutt Patnaik on the famous story of the killing of Dronacharya.

And another writer that I have great respect for Gurcharan Das,  in his wonderful book The Difficulty Of Being Good addresses exactly the issues that Shackman has raised. And I agree with the reviewer when he concludes “I loved The Difficulty of being Good, but I will not recommend it to everyone. You should only buy this book, if you like the Mahabharata, and are also interested in questions of morality, and sometimes ponder about the questions of right and wrong. Without such interest, I think you will find the book difficult to read and not interesting at all.”

Another book that I am currently plodding through is more relevant to our present day conditions and environment. “The Truth About Trust; How It Determines Success In Life, Love, Learning and More”, by David DeSteno which I was persuaded to buy when I read this review in the HBR.

No, after all that information overload, I have not become an expert on the topic of honesty, truth and trust. If anything I have become more secure in my own answer to the question originally raised by Shackman – Honesty is not the best policy when the action taken can cause physical or mental harm to one’s self or others.

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This topic was suggested by Shackman for the weekly Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium where currently nine of us write on the same topic every Friday. I hope that you enjoyed my contribution to that effort.  The seven other bloggers who write regularly are, in alphabetical order,  AshokgaelikaaLin, Maxi, Padmum, Pravin,  Shackman and The Old Fossil. Do drop in on their blogs and see what their take is on this week’s topic. Since some of them may post late, or not at all this week, do give some allowance for that too!

Reading.

A friend who is an Economics Journalist, one of the busiest persons I know, recently recommended a book for me to read. It is an English translation from Sanskrit of one of India’s epics, The Mahabharata. I was intrigued because, the author, Bibek Debroy, is a well-known economist and the last person that I would imagine writing on or about the Mahabharata.

My friend’s recommendation and the author’s credentials decided the issue for me and I have purchased the book. Right from the very beginning, it is everything I expected from a book recommended by my friend written by this particular author.

This post is not about my purchasing the book or, about the author, but about the very scintillating response from my friend to a mail from me.

Having purchased the book, I sent an e-mail to my friend and asked him how he found the time to read such a book, as I know that he is an extremely busy man.

Just look at this reply:

“Well, I know a little bit of Sanskrit, thanks to my father who taught that language in the Punjab University in Pre-Partition days. I love to read. Time does not permit me to read all that I want.

If you manage to get me sacked from my organisation, I will celebrate like Charles Lamb did on being asked to quit his job. Lamb said: “I have now more years to live in which I can read some more books!!”

I am seriously tempted to get my friend sacked from his job, or at least try. I do not have that kind of clout but no harm trying is there?

What would you do, if he was your friend?